CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Baltimore Ravens had no idea what hit them 8 1/2 minutes into Sunday’s game.
When the dust settled and the clock hit 00:00, the shoe was on the other foot for the Cleveland Browns.
A blocked PAT that the Ravens returned 64 yards for 2, multiple miscues – including a questionable taunting penalty on Terrelle Pryor in the final seconds – and a left shoulder injury to quarterback Josh McCown derailed the Browns and allowed the Ravens to swoop in for 25-20 victory Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“That is the National Football League when you don’t finish the game,” Head coach Hue Jackson said. “We are not going to complain or anything about the calls or anything like that. I just think we have to play better. We started off like a house of fire the first half, and then we weren’t able to maintain it and finish it that way. That is what happens in the National Football League. You have to keep scoring. We didn’t do that in the second half.”
Joe Flacco completed 25 of 45 passes for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns – both to receiver Mike Wallace for 7 and 17 yards respectively – in the win for the Ravens. Browns cornerback Joe Haden provided a pair of defensive highlights by picking him off twice but it was not enough to prevent the third-worst come-from-ahead loss in franchise history.
McCown threw a pair of critical interceptions – the first at the end of the first half that got picked by safety Eric Weddle at the Ravens’ 39 that was eventually turned into a 52-yard field goal at the half and the second with 13 seconds left that safety C.J. Mosely came down with at the 1-yard line.
McCown will undergo further tests on his shoulder Monday after getting pile driven into the turf on multiple occassions by Ravens defenders. Center Cameron Erving, who went down with 55 seconds left, was taken from the stadium in an ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation after experiencing discomfort in his chest and ribs. The team said that he is in stable condition.
The Browns last-ditch effort in the final minute to prevent yet another epic collapse came undone when Pryor caught a pass on the sideline at the 10 yard line that gave the Browns a first down with 21 seconds left but the training official threw a flag for taunting after Pryor flipped the football.
“I’ll let Coach Jackson handle that,” Pryor said when asked about the call.
The ball hit Ravens safety Lardarius Webb in the helmet and shoulder area nullifying the play.
“I’m not going to say if it was or wasn’t. I haven’t seen it,” Jackson said. “I’ve heard different sides of it, but they called it so we have to do a better job of making sure that we get the ball to the official and go from there.”
McCown threw his second interception on the next snap looking for Pryor again over the middle and sealing the game.
FirstEnergy Stadium was in a frenzy in the first quarter following a pair of touchdown passes from McCown to rookie receiver Corey Coleman. Coleman got both feet in on his first NFL TD – a 31 yarder and added an 11-yard score for the 20-0 lead. He finished with 5 catches for 104 yards in his home debut.
“I would rather take the win than the way I played, but it didn’t work out that way,” Coleman said. “We are going to go back to the lab and keep on working.”
In between the TD strikes, Isaiah Crowell ripped off an 85-yard touchdown run up the middle on their second possession that made it 14-0. The run by Crowell was the second longest TD run in Browns history but he took no credit for the big play.
“It was just a power play. The linemen did a great job blocking the double team, got a great push,” Crowell said. “I just owe it all to my linemen. I think it was them that really got the touchdown. I just ran it.”
After McCown found Coleman for the second score the extra point was blocked by Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy and it was returned 64 yards by Tavon Young to get the Ravens on the board with 2.
Baltimore never looked back.
After the Browns’ next offensive series McCown ran to the locker room to have his left shoulder checked but he returned and didn’t miss a snap. He gutted it out and finished the day 20 of 33 for 260 yards with the 2 TDs and 2 interceptions.
“Josh is unbelievably tough and is a great leader for this team,” Coleman said. “He battled the whole game.”
Justin Tucker made field goals of 52, 49 and 41 for Baltimore who improved to 2-0. The Browns start the year 0-2 and might be on to their third starter in as many games next week in Miami.